Like A Fella Once Said, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head?

Like what I’d like to still believe are a majority of American sports fans, I was rooting for the U.S. women’s national soccer team to make history with a third consecutive World Cup.  I first became enamored with the team during their engaging run to their first in 1999, when Brandi Chastain’s successful penalty kick, and her subsequent reaction to it, literally turned the country on to how exciting and inspiring they can be.  And, like many men, especially those who like me were recently divorced, the image of a sports bra-clad Chastain baring her soul and her toned abs to the world in celebration was one that sustained through some trying and nervous times.  Anyone remember Y2K panic?

We were a more naive country then.  We had the internet, but we didn’t have twitter.  We had a sitting president who had been unsuccessful impeached who led those cheers for Chastain and her teammates, in spite of the fact that a whole lot of women knew darn well what was likely going through his mind when he celebrated them.  Turns out I had an employee who had grown up competing against Chastain in Bay Area high school soccer matches, knew her family and also knew she was an exceptionally happily married woman, indeed, to a blessed man named Jerry Smith who lived near my employee’s family while he was coaching the University of Santa Clara Broncos.   My employee set me straight quickly.

Flash forward to yesterday morning, when the fate of this year’s team was squarely on the foot of the current team’s heart and soul Megan Rapinoe.  With the U.S. having scored three consecutive times in their match-deciding shootout against a Swedish team that they had battled for the previous two hours plus to a scoreless draw, and on the heels of a thrilling save by goaltender Alyssa Naeher, Rapinoe stood determined and although at age 38, on the cusp of her retirement from the sport, she had been only a modest contributor to this year’s World Cup efforts, she was in position to give the U.S. a shot at a potentially insurmountable lead and a chance to advance.  And she had not missed such an opportunity in a competitive match in more than five years.

Were these more optimistic and celebratory times, I might not have had the thoughts of dread that were crossing my mind as she unwound her strong kicking leg.  And much to my chagrin, Rapinoe indeed missed.  And four scintillating rounds later, the Swedes broke a draw when Lina Hurtig was credited with a match-winning goal that eluded a full save by Naeher by centimeters.

I was heartbroken.  Rapinoe, to her credit, was sanguine, as NEWSWEEK’s Ewan Palmer reported:

Speaking after the game on Sunday, Rapinoe, who is normally a reliable penalty taker and scored one in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final against the Netherlands, described her miss on Sunday as “like a sick joke.”

“That’s why I had that smile on my face,” she said. “I’m like, ‘You’ve got be f****** kidding me.’ I’m going to miss a penalty? I mean, honestly, I can’t remember the last time I missed.”

But that’s how others reacted. as Palmer was obligated to report:

Benny Johnson, podcast host and Turning Point USA chief creative officer, wrote on X, while mistakenly referring to Rapinoe’s penalty miss as a free kick and the round of 16 game as the 16th round: “After winning back-to-back World Cups the heavily favored Team USA has been ELIMINATED by Sweden in the 16th round. Team USA’s downfall was delivered by anti-America, anti-woman activist Megan Rapinoe’s EMBARRASSING free kick here.”

Catturd, a popular right-wing account with more than 1.9 million followers on X, wrote: “The anti-American USA woke women’s soccer team has been eliminated and Megan Rapinoe is the cause of it. I can’t stop laughing.”

And, of course, it was topped off by the once and aspirationally future leader of America adding his own remarks:

Former President Donald Trump has mocked Megan Rapinoe for her penalty miss against Sweden in the Women’s World Cup, while claiming the USWNT’s elimination from the competition is proof that “woke equals failure.” 

Trump and Rapinoe, who is gay and campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality, have had a long-running feud dating back to when she was among the first prominent sport stars to kneel during the national anthem to protest against police brutality in 2017.

“The ‘shocking and totally unexpected’ loss by the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team to Sweden is fully emblematic of what is happening to the our once great Nation under Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump posted on Truth Social on Sunday night.

“Many of our players were openly hostile to America—No other country behaved in such a manner, or even close. WOKE EQUALS FAILURE. Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to Hell!!! MAGA,” he wrote.

Yep, I’m damn proud to be an American today.  One that is thoroughly disgusted by not only those reactions, but only frustrated with Rapinoe because with the Mets performing at an almost incredulously awful level and with scant little else to look forward to for at least the next couple of weeks, I honestly don’t know what distraction from the sports world I will have to look forward to as the World Cup plays out with teams I’m only modestly familiar with or invested in.

I suppose I could jump on the bandwagon and look forward to this, which BBC News’ Peter Hoskins teased out earlier today:

Two of the world’s most high-profile technology billionaires – Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg – have agreed to fight each other in a cage match.

Mr Musk posted a message on his social media platform Twitter that he was “up for a cage fight” with Mr Zuckerberg.

Mr Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, then posted a screenshot of Mr Musk’s tweet with the caption “send me location”.

“The story speaks for itself,” a Meta spokesperson told the BBC.

And I guess if they can hash it out like that, then perhaps we could possibly avoid the pain and suffering of an actual election and get our political leaders to decide their battles the way that soccer players do–by penalty kicks.

But I wouldn’t want to put two warriors of advancing age at any risk.  Rather, let’s let Benny Johnson, strapping young millennial and thought leader, follow the lead of his buddy Elon and step onto the pitch,  Since he is determined to save America, then let him face off against Rapinoe on behalf of every red-blooded ‘Merican he believes he stands up for–in all likelihood, at least the 1.9 million who subscribe to Catturd, and perhaps some of those that might have watched him on Newsmax before he got fired earlier this year.

I think Megan might just be open to coming out of retirement for just one chance to look this putz in the face and while we remind the world of his track record wind up one more time.  You know, this proud legacy of decency of honesty, as his Wikipedia entry documents:

In 2010, Johnson began contributing opinion pieces to the opinion website Breitbart. In 2011 he was hired as a full-time worker for Glenn Beck‘s TheBlaze, a conservative media website.[4] In 2012, Johnson became a staff writer at BuzzFeed.[12]

In July 2014, BuzzFeed found 41 instances of plagiarism in Johnson’s writings, comprising almost ten percent of his work. He was subsequently fired from BuzzFeed and apologized for the plagiarism.[3] A few weeks later, he became digital director at National Review.[14]

In 2017, Johnson was suspended by IJR after Johnson’s involvement in an article which asserted that Judge Derrick Watson‘s partial blocking of Executive Order 13780 was connected to former President Barack Obama‘s visit to Hawaii. Johnson had been warned that IJR could potentially be promoting a conspiracy theory, but assigned the story anyway.[5][18] Later that year, Johnson was demoted for violating IJR’s company ethics; Business Insider reported that Johnson had been verbally abusive and driven numerous staffers away from the IJR due to his management style.[18] Johnson and IJR’s relationship was terminated in October 2017.[19]

Just one last kick, Megan.  And this time, aim lower.  I’d even be OK if you didn’t score.   But I think you all now where her errant shot might hit.




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